Robotic surgery ends with safe delivery

Some said the world would end, but for baby Zoey it marked the beginning.

The significance of her birth yesterday — on 12/12/12 — had far more to do with the wonders of technology than any rare, date sequence.

Her safe arrival at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) meant her mother Anne O’Mahony became the first woman in Ireland to achieve a second full-term pregnancy, having had robotic surgery prior to her first pregnancy to help prevent miscarriage.

The surgery involved a stitch to the cervix, a procedure known as “interval abdominal cervical cerclage”, previously successful in getting Anne to full term and culminating in the birth in Jun 2011 of baby Lucy.

At the time, she became one of the first women in Europe to have been assisted in a successful pregnancy as a result of pre-pregnancy robotic surgery.

The latest excellent result is good news not just for Anne and husband Pat, from Donoughmore, Co Cork, but for mums-to-be who need this kind of procedure to help maintain a pregnancy.

Putting a robot on the job means less trauma for the mother, according to consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist Dr Barry O’Reilly.

“In most hospitals this procedure is performed through an open abdominal incision requiring a long hospital stay and recovery period. In CUMH this procedure is carried out via da Vinci robotic surgery.

“The da Vinci surgical system benefits patients because it involves less pain and scarring, reduced risk of infection, reduced blood loss and fewer transfusions, quicker recovery time and discharge from hospital, and return to normal activities.”

The robot is controlled remotely by the surgeon who sits at a computer, manipulating the controls while viewing a 3D image of the surgical site.

The “stitch” procedure can help women with a weak (incompetent) cervix who are likely to have a miscarriage because the cervix begins to open in early pregnancy.

Dr O’Reilly said it helped keep the cervix closed and the baby in the womb until the mother reaches 37-38 weeks of pregnancy. The baby is then delivered by elective Caesarean section.

Zoey’s parents were overjoyed when their new daughter weighted in at 6lbs 7 ounces, in time for Christmas, and on a day that lived up to its reputation for once-in-a-lifetime celebrations.

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